14 Pro Skills Every Sales Development Rep (SDR) Needs In 2024

8 mins

Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) play a major role in deal closure. They help sales reps and managers with prospecting, lead nurturing, and qualification. 

So naturally, you need to help them master their SDR skills so they are more confident doing what they do – filling up your sales pipeline with high-quality leads. Additionally, every SDR leader evaluates an SDR’s competency before hiring based on specific hard and soft skills.

In this extensive guide, we’ve researched the 14 must-have hard and soft skills for SDRs in 2024, so your SDRs can stay competitive. 

Let’s dig in. 

Hard skills

Hard skills are technical, hands-on skills for a job. These can be enhanced through continuous education and staying up-to-date with industry trends.  

We’ve divided SDR hard skills into two major categories: Technical or tech-savvy skills and awareness of industry trends in lead generation and prospecting. Let’s get into them. 

  • Account sourcing, prioritization, and enrichment

Here are some hard SDR skills to showcase tech-savviness:

1. Data scraping and enrichment

No matter how good the outreach message is, the campaign can lead to wasted resources if your SDRs are not targeting the right people. That’s why SDRs must be proficient in data scraping and enrichment. 

Automation tools like Expandi can help SDRs scrape high-quality prospects in minutes. For example, you can scrape LinkedIn group members who match your buyer persona, prospects who engaged with an industry influencer’s post, etc.

Say you want to scrape your LinkedIn search results. All you must do is:

  • Copy the search URL, log in to Expandi, or sign up for the free trial.
  • Go to Search on your Expandi account and click Add new search.
  • Choose Basic search type, paste the copied search URL, and click Search.
  • Expandi scrapes data in seconds and waits for you to export the data into a CSV file, webhook, etc. 

Note: You can do a similar search and scrape using the LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Expandi. Just copy the Sales Navigator’s search URL, and create a Connector Campaign in Expandi to start scraping results. Utilizing Sales Navigator filters enables you to discover even more prospects who precisely match your targeted Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

You now have a scraped list of prospects you can reach out to.

 You can further enrich data by adding any missing information, such as prospects’ email addresses, phone numbers, and more. 

Some growth hacks to make the most out of data scraping with Expandi:

  • Perform data cleaning to maintain data quality. For example, clean up empty records, duplicates, and other inaccuracies.
  • Post-data-scraping for LinkedIn, ensure you perform outreach mindfully to avoid the risk of account restrictions or bans.
  • Always rely on automation tools to perform automated outreach post-data scraping for large data sets.
  • Enrich data to enhance lead quality.

2. Proficiency in CRM platforms

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are all the rage when it comes to managing customer and potential customer interactions. 

These platforms help SDRs organize and track critical customer data and create and set up outreach campaigns to support the sales team. You can also integrate your CRM and LinkedIn to automate some of the most important processes that can make SDRs’ work easier.

Some of the most popular CRM platforms for sales are HubSpot, Pipedrive, and Salesforce.

3. Expertise in using lead generation automation tools

Learning how to use lead generation tools can increase the likelihood of keeping your sales pipeline full of fresh, high-intent leads in less time. Such tools could support various lead-generation campaigns like social media outreach, website marketing, cold calling, etc.

Plenty of lead generation automation tools are in the market today, but the trick is to educate your SDRs about using the safest one. 

For example, a tool needs to understand and work a way around the LinkedIn limit for the number of connection requests to 100 a week since crossing the limit could raise account restrictions and risks. 

But that’s not a problem with Expandi. It is a safe LinkedIn automation tool for effective lead generation, enabling you to send up to 300 new personalized connection requests weekly. That means more quota for your SDRs to reach out to more prospects and turn them into qualified leads. 

sdr skills development

  • Logic of an outreach, based on analysis and prioritization. Data-driven analysis

Sales is an ever-evolving industry. What strategies worked a year ago may not sustain your current business goals. So here are some latest skills your SDRs must have to win prospecting and lead generation:

4. Intent-driven lead generation

SDRs must be aware of signs and behaviors prospects show that indicate they are in an active buying phase and more prone to choosing your product. 

Some example signals and behaviors are:

  • Visiting your website multiple times in a timeframe
  • Clicks on your advertisements 
  • More time spent on your website or landing page
  • Subscribing to your newsletter and downloading a lead magnet
  • Searching for the solutions in the web or in listing platforms (like G2 or Clutch) that your product or service helps with.

SDRs must ensure to collect such CRM data and analyze them to target intent-driven prospects with the right message at the perfect time. 

You could explore tools like 6sense or N.Rich to understand who is ready to buy.

5. Hyper-personalization in cold outreach

Most SDRs are aware of outreach methods, but most may not induce hyper-personalization into their strategies. Today’s prospects don’t like receiving conventional copy-pasted messages or emails. 

So here are some hyper-personalization tips to stand out from the crowd:

  • Do some research before outreach. For example, your prospect may have shared about winning an award or receiving a promotion. Use this information to open the prospecting message.
  • Use a funny visual like a comic to attract attention. We loved the image below, where you can personalize it dynamically with the prospect’s first name and company logo.

sales development representative

  • Don’t forget to personalize your follow-ups, too, to increase the chance of response.
  • To save time, use a dynamic personalization tool like Expandi to add customized elements for your LinkedIn cold outreach campaigns. 

Learn how to supercharge your LinkedIn outreach campaigns with Expandi.

6. Building multichannel outreach

It’s not easy to pinpoint where the next customer may come from. Say you’re running a single-channel outreach campaign on LinkedIn, but a high-intent prospect is more inclined to check their emails. So it’s best to tie in two or more channels for better reach.

Here’s what a multichannel outreach campaign using Smart Sequences looks like with Expandi:

sdr role

Expandi’s Smart Sequences help you automate sending LinkedIn connection requests, email follow-ups, and follow-up InMails to increase the chance of a response. 

7. Ability to leverage AI and machine learning tools for prospecting and lead nurturing

The generative capabilities of AI and ML have been transformative in the sales field. AI/ML tools can help SDRs score leads by offering data-driven insights. 

AI technologies and tools are evolving beyond our imagination. While most people dread the ‘AI takeover,’ lead generation is one field that can benefit the most from artificial intelligence.

But did you know you could leverage free tools like ChatGPT as well? ChatGPT can be used across your sales funnel stages for outbound lead generation. For example, you can set up ChatGPT prompts to write personalized cold emails and curate LinkedIn messages for outreach.

8. Follow all Google, Gmail, and LinkedIn updates

Google, LinkedIn, Gmail, and other social media algorithms are prone to change. 

For example, Google enforced some new requirements for bulk email senders in Feb 2024, and the LinkedIn algorithm, as of 2023, has updated its metrics to evaluate your content and mark engagement. 

So staying up-to-date with changes is key to not putting your SDRs’ LinkedIn or email accounts at risk of spamming or bans. 

  • Good messaging, calling, and presentation skills:

9. Using video in cold outreach

With video content growing in popularity across platforms, sales videos for cold outreach are not far behind in catching up to this trend. 

Videos in cold outreach bring in the much-needed face-to-face connection between SDRs and prospects, which does not exist in regular text messages. 

But you may be wondering if sending video messages in bulk for cold outreach is efficient enough. You can use Response.ai to create a video campaign by recording a short clip by having the prospect’s website as the video background. 

sales representative skills

Next, you can upload the prospect contacts’ CSV file having details like their website, LinkedIn profile URL, etc. Response.ai auto-creates personalized videos based on the upload. 

Finally, use Expandi to upload the CSV file, add placeholders for customization, and set up a follow-up outreach campaign where the video links are added to each message. 

Read this guide for a step-wise approach to adding video content in your next cold outreach campaign.   

10. De-fluffed messaging

Your C-level prospects hate jargon. So ensure SDRs are not using forced jargon for cold outreach or pitching, which can come off as generic messaging. 

Train them to cut off fluff across messaging. That means no more using words like best-in-class, revolutionary, cutting-edge, leading, etc.

11. The art of follow-ups

The meat is in the follow-ups. If your SDRs are killing it with their outreach but not following up, they may leave a lot on the table.

Multiple studies show email and LinkedIn follow-ups have a higher response rate than no follow-ups. Also, follow-ups show how deeply your SDRs are keen on solving prospects’ problems. 

Follow-up is KEY, but it’s more than just doing it. It’s HOW you do it.

But when and how should someone follow up? 

Gong analyzed 304k+ follow-up emails to understand what makes the ideal follow-up email.

Here’s what they found:

  • Longer follow-up emails of up to 150 words or more work well if you’re offering value for the prospect
  • Avoid using phrases like “never heard back”, “any thoughts?” or “hope all is well” as they make the follow-up email too generic.
  • Avoid sending super short, general emails containing 30 words or less, as they are 15x less likely to receive a response. 

Here are a few best use cases where follow-ups do the trick:

  • After an initial sales meeting between an SDR/sales rep/sales manager and the prospects. The first follow-up email can boost reply rates by 49%.
  • A second follow-up 2-5 days after sending the first follow-up. The second follow-up email increases response rates by around 9%.
  • A follow-up post-event to refresh the prospect’s memory
  • An hour or two after a prospect accepts your LinkedIn connection request
  • A personalized follow-up after a prospect visits your LinkedIn profile or website

Research suggests that an optimal number of follow-ups for B2B outreach is 2 emails

sdr skills development

Need some follow-up templates? We got you. Read this guide to explore the art of follow-ups and access ready-to-use templates. 

Soft skills

While a majority of hard skills are taught, soft skills are the traits individuals develop with time. So, for SDRs, this can mean the ability to build healthy relationships with prospects and being a great listener. 

3 soft skills we suggest your SDRs develop:

12. Curiosity in SDRing

Curiosity in sales development is one of the most critical soft skills that’s often underlooked. Curiosity ensures SDRs are on a constant cycle of learning and improvement rather than stagnant. 

Curious SDRs are more quick to adapt to changes and trends happening around them.

13. Coachability and adaptability to business objectives

A coachable sales rep indicates their potential to be successful at any position or changes that may be happening around them. They are capable of improving their performance with the help of others guiding them. 

Also, an SDR who’s adaptable and an active listener can focus on collecting the necessary information about prospects while staying on par with business objectives.

14. Winner mentality

It takes passion, confidence, and vision for a winner mindset to cultivate with time. And SDRs are no different. 

Also, no two SDRs are the same. One may have certain strengths and weaknesses that the other doesn’t, and vice versa. So it’s best for SDRs to be aware of where they stand so they can put their best foot forward. 

Wrapping up

Think of sales prospecting and outreach as a competitive race where only teams who are highly-skilled can make it to the finish line. 

True grip and determination to excel at both hard and soft skills in the need of the hour.

Lucky for you, using Expandi’s automation solution is the best skill your SDRs can acquire to make LinkedIn outreach safe and easy.

Create an account for free today to explore the tool!


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